Asia

China's central bank slashed borrowing costs by the biggest margin in a decade, in a strong signal that government efforts to support the economy didn't end with the announcement of a massive stimulus plan just over two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The move, announced Wednesday, brings the benchmark one-year lending rate down by 1.08 percentage points to 5.58%, with the benchmark one-year deposit rate cut by the same margin to 2.52%, the People's Bank of China said in a statement.
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About 30 percent of Indian industrial metal importers have defaulted on consignments after prices slumped by more than half, the head of a trade body said on Wednesday. "Most of the importers are hit severely. Some importers who had taken bigger risks are not able to clear consignments from the ports," Surendra Mardia, president of the Bombay Metal Exchange (BME), told Reuters in an interview. The BME, with about 500 members, is the biggest association of non-ferrous metal traders in India.
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South Korea's financial watchdog said Wednesday it would set up a task force to advise troubled companies on corporate restructuring to help them ride out the credit crunch, Agence France-Presse reported today. The team of 43 experts will be formed Friday and work for one year, the Financial Services Commission said. South Korea has announced a series of steps to lessen the effect of the global slowdown, including $16 billion in loans to ease a dollar shortage for firms importing raw materials and exporting goods.
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Companies around the world are keen to redeploy labor resources and cut costs to cope with the global downturn, but those operating in China may find that laying off people there will not be as easy as previously, Forbes reported. For the ten-month period from January to October, those who lost their jobs numbered 10.2 million, topping Beijing's forecast for the entirety of 2008 by 2.0%, minister of human resources and social security Yin Weimin said at a press conference Thursday. In response, authorities are clamping down on the freedom to dismiss substantial numbers of workers.
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Japanese builder Daiwa House Industry Co. said it may bid for failed property developer Urban Corp as it seeks opportunities to buy real estate assets brought low by the financial crisis, Reuters reported yesterday. Daiwa, at the head of a consortium of companies that includes Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc., is currently in the lead to be chosen to take over Urban's assets and oversee its restructuring, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters. Urban filed for court protection from creditors on Aug 13 with 256 billion yen ($2.67 billion) in debt.
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For decades, the steamy Pearl River Delta area of southern Guangdong Province served as a primary engine for China’s astounding economic growth. But circumstances have changed quickly. The slowdown in exports contributed to the closing of at least 67,000 factories across China in the first half of the year, according to government statistics. Labor disputes and protests over lost back wages have surged, igniting fear in local officials. The shutdown of the Weixu shoe factory, called China Top Industries in English, is the latest casualty, the New York Times reported today.
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Despite assurances from the developer, Singapore is looking for ways to avoid ending up with a mammoth unfinished project on a prominent piece of land if U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. is unable to complete a $4.9 billion gaming venture, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. Sands said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week that it was in danger of not meeting obligations to its lenders on a $3.8 billion portion of its debt unless it raises capital, cuts spending on developments or increases its Las Vegas earnings by year end.
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Administrators of the European arm of failed investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. are meeting with creditors in London on Friday to sketch out the group's assets and liabilities, The Straits Times reported today. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which was drafted in as administrator to Lehman Brothers International (Europe) to unravel the complex web of the firm's tens of thousands of trades and attempt to claw back funds for creditors, said it will provide an update after the meeting.
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Japan will offer up to 10 trillion yen ($105 billion) to the International Monetary Fund to bailout nations reeling from the global financial crisis, The Nikkei newspaper reported Thursday. Japanese officials have repeatedly said Tokyo is ready to provide some of its ample cash for IMF loans if the multilateral group doesn't have enough funds for bailouts. But the ministers have not given an amount. The Nikkei, the nation's top business daily, said the amount is likely to be about 10 percent of Japan's $1 trillion foreign currency reserves.
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Russian stocks plunged and Kuwait suspended trading as a slump in oil to below $55 a barrel roiled emerging markets and increased concern that Moscow will be forced to devalue the ruble, Bloomberg reported today. Russia's Micex Index fell as much as 17 percent and was 8.6 percent lower at 1:09 p.m. in Moscow after it reopened following a 30-minute trading suspension. A court in Kuwait ordered a shutdown as traders lobbied for support after a sixth day of declines.
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